MILWAUKEE, Wis. (AP) — The Marquette bench came to the rescue for the Golden Eagles after the starters struggled against Samford, its last tuneup before beginning Big East play.
Jajuan Johnson came off the bench to score 14 points and the Marquette reserves scored 50 points in its 71-48 rout of the Bulldogs on Saturday.
Golden Eagles coach Buzz Williams was pleased with his team's win, but said each player must be more consistent for the team to be successful in Big East play.
"If you look at the numbers and you go, 'Well, how did the starters play more minutes than the subs and the subs scored more points? Buzz, you're starting the wrong guys,'" he said. "Maybe.
"At some point, if we are going to be better, we have to find some sort of consistency," Williams said.
Todd Mayo and freshman Deonte Burton had 13 points apiece for the Golden Eagles, which ruined a homecoming for Samford coach Bennie Seltzer, a former Marquette assistant.
The top four scorers for the Golden Eagles came off the bench with Marquette's reserves outscoring Samford's bench 50-12.
Tim Williams, who scored 25 points in Samford's 75-58 win over Jacksonville in the team's last game Dec. 20, scored 16 points and had nine rebounds. Raijon Kelly added 10 points for the Bulldogs (5-9).
"With a team like Marquette, they're bigger than we are, they're stronger than we are, they're faster than we are," Seltzer said. "You've got to play tough and you can't be afraid. But you've also got to take advantage of your opportunities."
It was an easy win for Marquette (8-5) as it prepares to play in the reconstituted Big East. Seven schools broke away in March, invited Creighton, Xavier and Butler to join a 10-team conference, and kept the Big East name.
Marquette took control of the game midway through the first half by penetrating the lane, getting fouled and making 14 of 19 free throws to lead 39-23 at halftime.
"It was obviously close until we got in rhythm, started playing with each other and started getting stops and started getting out (in transition), that's what I think changed the game," Mayo said. "If we are able to do that as the season continues I think we'll be a pretty good team."
Samford only made four of five free throws in the first half.
"I think the first half they shot 20-plus free throws," Tim Williams said. "That always hurts a team if they shoot 20 and we shoot five or six. Plus, even the free throws we did shoot, we didn't make a lot of them. So that hurt us."
The Bulldogs never got within single digits in the second half and Marquette extended the lead to 57-37 on a dunk by Burton with 8 minutes left in the game.
Marquette forward Jamil Wilson, the team's second-leading scorer at 12.5 points, injured his right knee while being fouled by Russell Wilson on a dunk with 15:09 left in the first half. He stayed in the game for 41 more seconds, but then went to the bench and did not return.
He was scheduled to get an MRI after the game, Buzz Williams said.
"I would say he's fine," Buzz Williams said. "I would say he probably tweaked something. I think he could have played. He wanted to play.
"In our last non-conference game, regardless of who our opponent was, I don't think I would have played him," he said. "It was the conservative approach to make sure nothing structurally was wrong."
Samford's zone frustrated Marquette early with the Golden Eagles settling for jumpers. The Bulldogs jumped to an 11-8 lead on Tim Williams' six-foot turnaround baseline jumper with 13:38 left in the half.
Davonte Gardner then scored his first basket and Marquette started penetrating the lane and getting the ball inside. It resulted in a 17-4 run to give the Golden Eagles a 25-15 lead on a pair of free throws by Jake Thomas with 6:16 to go in the half.
The Golden Eagles took the lead for good, 13-11, on a 3-pointer by Johnson with 12:58 left in the first half.
Samford point guard, Isaiah Williams, missed the game due to a groin injury. He is the Bulldogs second-leading scorer, averaging 11 points a game. Seltzer said Isaiah Williams is expected to play in the team's next game against Presbyterian on Monday.
Seltzer was an assistant under Tom Crean at Marquette from 2006-08 and is in his second season as Samford's coach.